Dismay turned quickly into anger as I stood in the doorway of my four-year-old son's bedroom. Accusing words were out of my mouth in a heartbeat.
"What did you do?!"
Not even ten minutes before, I had made his bed. It was Saturday morning, the day I do the household chores, and I had a long list of things to tackle. There wasn't time to re-do the work I had already done. Besides that, I was already tense due to a job situation. for which I had been seeking God's answer. I wanted to hear from Heaven now, so I could get on with some decisions, but the Lord had been making me wait, and I was struggling with that.
My son was wrapped up in the comforter of his bed with toys sprawled across the floor at his feet. Apparently he was trying to make a tent under which he and his toys could hide. He answered my question in a loud voice with a tone of superiority.
"I wasn't ready for the bed to be made."
I felt the heat of my temper rise quickly, but thankfully I also felt the Holy Spirit at the same moment invade my mind to help me keep control. I determined that instead of getting angry and yelling at him, I would use this situation as a object lesson. So, in a tight voice, I said to my son, "That was not a nice thing to do. You should not have torn the bed apart after Mommy made it. Now you are going to have to make your own bed. I want you to stay in this room until you have made the bed, and don't come out until it's done."
I turned and walked away only to hear his voice filled with despair, calling behind me, "But I don't know how to make the bed."
I knew that. He had only just turned four years old six weeks earlier. He was not at an age where he could manage to make his bed on his own. I responded over my shoulder, "I don't care. You need to understand something, so you can't come out until you have made the bed." I went into my own room, sat on my bed and waited. I could hear his attempts at putting the bedding back on the bed. It wasn't long before he let loose with a frustrated wail. I walked back to the doorway of his room.
"What's the matter?"
"I can't do it!" He looked up at me with big tears in his eyes.
"You mean you can't make the bed?"
"No, I can't."
"So who makes your bed for you?"
He pouted. "You do."
"Well then, since you can't do it by yourself and you need Mommy to do it, don't you think Mommy should decide when the bed gets made?"
Before I had even finished my last sentence, in fact, in the midst of saying it, the Holy Spirit opened my mind to what I was saying from a heavenly perspective. I could hear that usually still small voice saying in a firmer, louder tone than usual, "That's right, Jeanette. There are things that you can't do yourself and you need Me to do them for you. Don't you think that I should be the One to decide when to do them?"
Conviction filled my heart. Suddenly I understood that the situation with my son had been heavensent in order to teach me a lesson. I had been pressing the Lord to change my situation, sure that it was His will that my job situation was supposed to change. But I hadn't been willing to let Him do it in His timing. I had wanted it to happen now instead of allowing Him the sovereignty of deciding when to move things in my life.
I gave my son a hug and sent him off to play while I remade the bed, but as I did, I mused over how God had used my relationship with my son to teach me about my relationship with Him. I could see in a real way how we learn to relate to God through the training ground of our family relationships.
The clarity of that lesson pressed home to me how critical it is that our relationships here work as God designed them. The Lord uses our roles as husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, sister, brother, etc., to teach us how to interact with Him. When our relationships don't function as He designed them, our capacity to learn the man-to-God relationship is hindered and sometimes crippled. And since I'm going to spend an eternity with Him, shouldn't I invest in learning that relationship? Shouldn't I guard with care the earthly relationships from which I discover God?
If I learn how to be a child from my children, shouldn't I make every effort to safeguard that parent-child relationship? If I slack on parenting my children, how do I learn to relate to and depend on a heavenly Father? If I learn how to be the Bride of Christ, from being a wife to my husband, shouldn't I protect that relationship as well? If I neglect my marriage, how do I learn to interact with a heavenly bridegroom? Poor relationships with our loved ones here, in effect, hinder our growth as believers.
Today's culture would have us redefine what a family is, and what a marriage is, but in doing so, don't we lose the very reason for the design of those things? In relating to our families, we discover how to relate to our Creator, which is the very thing we were created for.